How important it is to meet new people every now and then? If you come to think of it, you can be settled with the current circle of friends that you already have. But there is a constant need to get yourself acquainted to new faces and further relations with people in both your personal and public or work life. In a more technical aspect, this is called networking. Networking is more like expanding your list of friends, but it is more than making friends. When you expand your network, it can pertain to many different aspects of your professional life.
Meeting new relations is very possible through the various opportunities such as continuing education classes, formal networking events, social gatherings, and many other social functions. So, networking is meeting and socializing with people whom you have never met apart from the ones you already know, hence, the phrase “expanding the network.”
Networking is not just a simple process of meet and greet. It is a skill that every individual, who is interested in developing relationships with people, should learn. In fact, networking skill is a prerequisite of building good and effective people skills. In this article, you will learn the concept of networking and how the skill can be developed. After all, you will eventually realize that networking is not as complicated a process as how the term sounds.
Working Definition and Concept of Networking
Career people understand the essence of networking, but are still left asking themselves “What is networking?” A practical working definition of networking is this: a process of building long-term relationships with people in a mutually beneficial way.
As mentioned earlier, networking is not just about making friends and acquaintances. More than that, it is creating relationships, and forming a connection with people you would like to know better who may have an impact or contribution to your professional life such as a change in career or a growth in business. More importantly, the process itself is a two-way street, meaning you develop new relations that can be to your advantage and at the same time, you get to offer a benefit in return.
The most feasible situation to start building good networking and apply your networking skill is through a gathering of people in group events and occasions where you meet new faces. In settings like these, be at your forefront and develop that mindset of taking the advantage of meeting new people whom you can develop further relations in the future.
Developing a Networking Strategy
In your active search for more opportunities in meeting people who may be beneficial to your professional life, building a networking strategy guides you in the process. Here is how you can strategize:
- Provide a clear and specific purpose for expanding your network. Know the type of people you want to meet, where you can likely meet them, and find out the things you want to learn.
- Think of what you are capable of giving or contributing to the people you may encounter. Always bear in mind that networking works beneficially between and among individuals.
- Plan your networking by preparing a list of the number of contacts you need to make and the ways you can get in touch with them after the initial meeting.
- Business cards and calling cards are useful tools to promote yourself.
- Document a record of your contacts and keep these records with accurate information details for future use.
Skills Needed in Networking
Networking is not a new ability to develop. It is no different from meeting new friends and getting introduced to new faces. But in order for you to become effective in applying this skill, you may also need to enhance your other communication skills. Some of these skills in the list you may already be good at, while there are some that you may still need to develop.
- Effective questioning ability
- Good conversational skills
- Rapport-building skill
- Showing genuine interest in people
- Use of proper and appropriate body language and expressions
- Flexibility and adaptability in various situations as well as different personalities
- Confidence-building and assertiveness
Learn these great skills and you are sure to easily build strong networking skills. In effect, you are also making great people skills out of your own abilities.